Can you guess this month’s natural wonder?
News and updates from MDC
Take safety recommendations with you on outdoor adventures.
With the current public-health emergency caused by COVID-19, MDC reminds people to continue hand washing, physical distancing, and all other public-health measures during outdoor activities. We advise people to make outdoor activities as safe and enjoyable as possible by taking the following actions:
Visit our COVID-19 webpage for updates on facility and office closures, cancellations, hunting and fishing seasons, and general information on public-health measures while in the outdoors at short.mdc.mo.gov/Zhi.
Want some free fun that gets family and friends outside in nature? Get hooked on fishing with our Free Fishing Days June 6 and 7. During Free Fishing Days, anyone can fish in the Show-Me State without buying a fishing permit, trout permit, or trout park daily tag.
Other fishing regulations remain in effect, such as limits on size and number of fish an angler may keep. Special permits may still be required at some county, city, or private fishing areas. Trespass laws also remain in effect on private property.
Conservation makes Missouri a great place to fish, and Free Fishing Days encourages people to sample the state’s abundant fishing opportunities. Missouri has more than a million acres of surface water, and most of it provides great fishing for the state’s more than 1.1 million anglers. More than 200 different fish species are found in Missouri, and more than 20 of them are game fish.
For information on Missouri fishing regulations, fish identification, and more, get a copy of MDC’s 2020 Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations where permits are sold or online at short.mdc.mo.gov/Zq3.
MDC encourages drivers to be cautious on the roads this spring. Turtles emerge from their burrows and begin hunting for food and mates during warm and wet conditions, which can lead them to cross roadways, oftentimes resulting in their death. Thousands of box turtles are killed every year by vehicles. Common turtles spotted crossing Missouri roads include three-toed box turtles, ornate box turtles, and snapping turtles.
Young males make up most of the travelers, sometimes wandering as many as 6 miles searching for territories and mates. Females are also crossing the roads in search of nesting areas.
Turtles are cold-blooded creatures and depend on external sources of heat to determine their body temperature. This explains why people see them on warm asphalt during cool, spring days.
If helping a turtle make it safely across the road, check for traffic and move the turtle in the direction it is traveling.
Additionally, we encourage Missourians to leave turtles in the wild. Taking a wild animal, whether a turtle or other wildlife species, and keeping it as a pet normally ends in a slow death. Most Missouri turtles can live up to 30 years, but the common box turtle can live up to 80, occasionally living more than a century. For more information on Missouri’s turtles, visit our online Field Guide at short.mdc.mo.gov/Zi4.
Send it to AskMDC@mdc.mo.gov or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.
Q: Could you tell me what kind of beetle this is?
A. One of the brightest beetles in its family, the dogbane beetle (Chrysochus auratus) attracts the eye with an iridescent blue-green shimmer and a metallic copper-gold shine. Scientists speculate the phenomenon, called “structural coloration,” may have evolved in insects as camouflage to mimic the appearance of raindrops or as a method to send mating signals over longer distances.
This beetle’s exoskeleton is made of chitin, a transparent substance that allows small fissures to refract the light like a prism, creating the blues and greens we admire. This beetle is named for its diet, which consists of dogbane, a small genus in the flowering plant family, Apocynaceae. The word is derived from ancient Greek terms meaning “away” and “dog,” since these plants were once used to poison dogs. Dogbane beetles also eat milkweed.
Though similar in appearance with its metallic green thorax, the Japanese beetle should not be confused with the dogbane beetle. The Japanese beetle, a serious agricultural pest, is slightly larger than the dogbane beetle at more than half an inch.
Q: What is the optimal time to cut hay for cattle feed, versus when grassland birds are finished nesting?
A. In a normal year, most grassland birds finish nesting by July 15, except for quail, which attempt nesting through September. For farmers and ranchers, the best time to cut hay is late May or early June, when the protein content of fescue and brome is at its peak. To counteract early haying, conservationists promote the use of native, warm-season grasses, which typically are not harvested until most birds have finished nesting.
The benefits of native grass hayfields are ease of maintenance, dependable production, and the ability to harvest during a normal lull in farming operations. A stand of native grasses, seeded with a legume, will produce a consistent 2 to 3 tons of hay per acre when harvested in July. Since the hay is harvested after crops have been planted and cool-season grasses have slowed growth, native hayfields help to reduce the spring rush of field work.
Q: I photographed this eastern collared lizard in St. Francois County. How is this species faring in Missouri?
A. Eastern collared lizards (Crotaphytus collaris) are stable across their range, but are considered a species of conservation concern in Missouri. Collared lizards were once widespread on glades in Missouri, but due to reduced fire frequency, resulting in changes in vegetation on the glades, lizard populations became isolated. By the 1980s, lizards were rapidly disappearing from Missouri, according to Missouri State Herpetologist Jeff Briggler.
In response to these declines, MDC began restoring the glades to their original open nature. Many cedar trees were removed, and periodic fires were set to maintain the open, rocky habitat on which the lizard depends.
Once the habitat was restored, faculty and students at Washington University, St. Louis, worked with MDC biologists to relocate lizards to the glades. With ongoing management, the eastern collared lizard is thriving and will be part of Missouri’s biodiversity for generations to come.
Corporal Kearby Bridges, Stone County Conservation Agent
This spring, the Missouri outdoors saw a surge in use. Missourians visited public and private lands for relief from pandemic stress and isolation. During times of heightened use, we all have a responsibility to be ethical stewards of the outdoors. Take all trash with you or use receptacles where available. Minimize noise. Never trespass onto private land — know your whereabouts and have permission to be on private property. Follow all regulations pertaining to conservation areas. It is your responsibility to know the rules of the area you’re using. Our public and private lands depend on all of us to maintain their integrity. Know before you go. Visit mdc.mo.gov for more information.
Wood nettle, commonly known as stinging nettle, grows in large, thick stands in forests, along streams, and other low, wet places. Referred to as a “nuisance to anyone tramping the wooded valleys in summer and autumn” by Missouri botanist Julian Steyermark, the hairs on this plant act like little syringes. Upon contact, they release toxins in the skin that cause burning and itching.
Catfish is one of the most sought-after fish in Missouri. In fact, this highly prized game and food fish was named the state’s official fish in 1997. Although catfish is wonderful fried, this recipe offers a different preparation, with a south of the border flare.
Place fish on lightly oiled, rimmed baking sheet. Mix garlic and lime juice and drizzle mixture over fish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let stand 15 minutes.
Broil fish in oven (you also may grill it) until opaque in center, 6 to 8 minutes. While fish is cooking, warm tortillas directly on a burner over lowest heat, turning once, until heated through. Watch carefully; the first side needs only 20 seconds or so, and the second side even less time. Alternatively, you may heat tortillas in a pan. Keep them warm in a tortilla basket lined with a cloth towel or napkin.
Cut fish into 1-inch pieces. Top each tortilla with lettuce, then fish. Drizzle with salsa and top with avocado and cheese.
This recipe is from Cooking Wild in Missouri by Bernadette Dryden, available for $16 at mdcnatureshop.com.
Here are the details for Missouri’s upcoming 2020 migratory game bird hunting seasons and 2020–2021 waterfowl hunting seasons.
Bag Limit: 6 ducks daily with species restrictions of:
Possession Limit: Three times the daily bag or 18 total, varies by species
Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset
Limits: Same as during regular waterfowl season
Hours: Same as during regular waterfowl season
Shells possessed or used while hunting waterfowl and coots statewide, and for other species designated by posting on public areas, must be loaded with material approved as nontoxic by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Get more information on nontoxic shot requirements, allowed types, and conservation areas requiring use at short.mdc.mo.gov/Zgt.
For more information on migratory bird and waterfowl hunting, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/ZZn or refer to the Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Digest 2020–2021, available beginning in July where hunting permits are sold.
Missouri’s waterfowl hunting zones are divided into North, Middle, and South. For a map and more information, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/Zq8.
City or countryside, Missouri’s wild animals are your neighbors, and finding a young animal alone doesn’t mean it needs help. In spring and early summer, rabbits and other wild animals are sometimes left alone for long periods while their parents look for food. If you see young wildlife in the outdoors, don’t assume it is abandoned or hurt. leave young wildlife alone.
If you believe an animal is in distress, notify the closest Missouri Department of Conservation office.
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